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Lawsuit against city for Plaza Towers flood damage reinstated


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The city of Grand Rapids was dealt a setback today with a Court of Appeals decision that reinstates a lawsuit filed by Plaza Towers for more than $7 million in damages caused during epic flooding in April, 2013.

Owners of the 32-story high-rise sued the city last year, claiming a pedestrian walkway cut into the flood wall contributed to river water inundating its parking garage.

A Kent County judge dismissed the case in August, saying a one-paragraph clause in a 1989 sewer agreement protects the city from litigation, even if the original signers are no longer connected with Plaza Towers.

In a 6-page decision released today, the Court of Appeals determined otherwise.

Van Andel changes bag policy for sold out Zac Brown Band concert


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Van Andel Arena has announced changes to its bag policy for Friday night's sold out show.

In a press release Thursday, the arena said patrons will only be allowed to bring in clear, plastic or vinyl bags that don't exceed the size of a one gallon Ziploc bag or small purses (4″ x 11″ maximum) without straps.

The policy is only tightened for the Zac Brown Band concert, an adjustment a spokesperson told WZZM 13 was requested by the tour.

GRPD: Be aware of scam targeting the elderly


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Police are investigating two separate reports of larceny targeting elderly people who live alone. Both incidents happened in the last four weeks.

The scam involves men posing as contractors. Police say one man distracts the resident, while the others enter the home and steals valuables.

Specific dates and addresses are not being released at this time.

Kalamazoo police are also investigating a similar crime.

The Grand Rapids Police Department wants to warn the public so they don't fall victim to the scam. They said in a press release Thursday, if you did not hire a contractor to come to your home, do not let anyone you do not know inside.

Movies in the Park gives big return to GR


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- It's paying off for the city of Grand Rapids to show free film screenings at a downtown park during the summer.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. on Wednesday released its economic report on the popular series.

Ah-nab-awen Park hosted six movies this summer. The screenings brought in $664,000 to the downtown Grand Rapids economy.

The series generated more than $400 for each dollar the city spent to produce the Movies in the Park events, and attendance was up 67 percent from last year.


Grand Rapids fire chief to retire after 31 years


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- After 31 years with the Grand Rapids Fire Department, Chief Laura Knapp has announced her plans to retire. Her last day will be Jan. 9, 2016.

Chief Knapp began her career with Grand Rapids as a firefighter in 1984. She then earned a series of promotions; lieutenant in 1992, captain in 1995, battalion chief in 1999, deputy fire chief in 2004 and interim fire chief in July 2009 before being promoted to chief in December later that year.

"We truly transformed this department and I believe that, collectively, our hard work and dedication has made a positive difference," Knapp said in a press release. "I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished and the GRFD is a better organization today than when we first began."

An interim fire chief will be named in the next 30 days while the city's human resources department begins a search for Knapp's successor.

Grand Rapids city commission chambers rennovations finished


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Tuesday the Grand Rapids City Commission held its first meeting in the newly renovated City Commission Chambers.  

The project included new windows, technology upgrades, and expanding the room's capacity.

The City Commission spent time over the summer and fall meeting in different locations while the work was being done. The good news is, according to the city, the renovation was completed on time, and under-budget by about $10,000.


Tree lighting kicks off the holidays in downtown GR


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- It may not really feel like Christmastime outside, but Grand Rapids is getting into the holiday spirit.

The city on Thursday night lit the towering tree outside the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Opera Grand Rapids Chorus performed first, and then Doug Small of Experience Grand Rapids and mayor-elect Rosalynn Bliss spoke ahead of the 5:45 p.m. lighting.

The tree lighting almost didn't happen this year; the Grand Rapids Art Museum canceled the ceremony back in October, saying it didn't have the money to replace the lights. That work cost $50,000.